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Materials Science and Engineering

This course has several elements:

  • An introduction to the discipline of materials science and engineering
  • A historical perspective of the impact of materials over the course of human civilization;
  • An introduction to the fabrication of materials (metals, ceramics, polymers, semiconductors)
  • An introduction to the characterization of materials
  • A critical assessment regarding how materials will impact the future of mankind and the

Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is focused on the improvement of existing materials and the discovery of new materials. MSE can often be thought of as a conduit between the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, earth and planetary sciences) along with math and all engineering disciplines. An example of this is the area of biomaterials (hip implants, dental implants, drug delivery, transplant material) that bridges biology and biomedical engineering.

During the four weeks, students will focus on MSE in the afternoons and as small groups will conduct three different hands-on laboratories, each lasting three days. These laboratories will include synthesizing and processing of a spinel ceramic (with an atomic structure that can accommodate many different chemical compositions resulting in a variety of commercial applications), building polymer components using 3D printing and examining the component’s mechanical integrity, and deforming a metal alloy (brass) and examining how the mechanical properties change. One of the important cornerstones of MSE is the relationship between structure, at various scales including macro, micro, nano, and atomic, and the resulting properties. These labs are designed to emphasize this relationship.

In addition to the hands-on activities, the students will hear seminars from several faculty in MSE highlighting their personal research areas. These seminars have been chosen to illustrate the breadth of MSE and include topics such as computation materials science, studying mechanical properties at the nanoscale, how MSE impacts the semiconductor industry, and “listening” to materials to determine physical properties. There will also be lectures on various characterization techniques (electron microscopes!), statistical analysis, advanced Excel techniques, keeping track of references, data mining, drawing atomic crystal structures, creating high quality graphics, etc.

Additionally, there will be three local plant/laboratory tours scheduled that complement the laboratory experiences. A tour of the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will complement the laboratory on spinels and a tour of the additive manufacturing capabilities at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) will complement the 3D printing laboratory.

Based on their laboratory experiences each team will choose a laboratory that they want to expand upon and suggest follow-on research (experiments, computational, or literature reviews). The student teams will be given some time in the final week work experiments, etc. during the afternoons but will be expected to work as groups on preparing posters, describing their results of their laboratory experience and follow-on research, in the evenings. The MSE GSE portion will conclude with poster presentation event with students presenting their findings.

Student Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will

  • Be familiar with materials science and engineering concepts and terminology
  • Be able to explain how materials have impacted the history of civilization (able to cite examples)
  • Be able to explain how materials are synthesized and processed (including several classes of materials)
  • Be able to explain how the structure and properties of materials are characterized
  • Be able to propose materials solutions to current and future challenges facing mankind and our relationship to our environment

Course Requirements/Examinations

Each week, students will be expected to complete one laboratory report and participate in one oral presentation.

Grade weights:

Laboratory Report I 15%
Laboratory Report II 15%
Laboratory Report III 15%
Laboratory Report IV 15%
Oral Presentation I 10%
Oral Presentation II 10%
Oral Presentation III 10%
Oral Presentation IV 10%
TOTAL 100%

Credit Hours: 3

Course Instructors

Dr. Kurt Sickafus, Course Director

Bio coming soon.